Driving

Driverless cars will make you a terrible driver

By Oliver Smith 15 March 2017
Summary

You’re about to become ‘incompetent, complacent and over-reliant on tech’.

As our cars become smarter over the next couple of years your role as driver will diminish.

Your mind will wander and you’ll become more and more distracted, whether because you’re reading, watching a film or just browsing Instagram.

That’s because cars will gradually move up the levels of automation, gaining the ability to park themselves, drive in slow traffic, and eventually take on whole journeys without your input.

But along this journey, while our cars will be smarter, they won’t be smart enough. In an emergency the driver will still be called on to act quickly.

And that’s a big problem, because our minds will be elsewhere.

We'll still need human drivers even as our cars add more capabilities.

Distracted drivers

“Even the most observant human driver’s attention will begin to wane,” warned Professor Neville Stanton, an expert on human factors in transport at the University of Southampton.

“This is particularly true if they are engaging in other activities such as reading, answering emails, engaged in conversations with passengers, watching movies or surfing the internet.”

Based on his testimony the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee gave a stark warning to the Government:

“[Connected and autonomous vehicles] could have negative implications for drivers’ competence, making drivers complacent and overly reliant on technology.”

“This is of particular concern in emergency situations, where a driver may react slowly to taking back control of a vehicle.”

Driverless cars will eventually make our roads a wonderfully safe place, as Google, Tesla and Apple build our autonomous future.

But the roads might get more dangerous first.